Cycling charity Sustrans gave 10 secondhand bicycles to the Action Asylum project.
The scheme allocates asylum seekers and refugees in the city to different roles including maintaining churchyards, litter picking and volunteering with charities such as Friday Fridge at St Jude’s Church.
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It is hoped the process, led by the Portsmouth City of Sanctuary, will help them meet friends, learn new skills, grow in confidence and alleviate mental trauma.
Milad Hashemi, 20, who is from Afghanistan, has been volunteering in Portsmouth through Action Asylum.
He said: ‘The bikes are great for our health and to help us get from A to B when volunteering at so many different places.
‘The free training has taught me to always wear a helmet, use hand signals, have a light, be seen wearing hi-vis and to be aware of the road.’
Forty-eight-year-old Fatma Tuylu added: ‘Using a bicycle makes my life easier because my son’s school is far away from my house and when I can use the bicycle to drop him and pick him up.
‘I can now cycle to All Saints Church every week for gardening, which I enjoy.’
Adrian Saunders from Top Banana Cycling volunteered to check and repair the bicycles and gave free road safety training to the participants during a session this week, with the help of Rob Johnston from the charity Friends Without Borders.
Action Asylum co-ordinator, Anita David, thanked Adrian and all involved. She said: ‘With the support of many organisations and individuals, we have placed people seeking opportunities into volunteering roles across the cities. This has helped change the perception of asylum seekers by local people and has given asylum seekers hope for the future.
‘We have so many projects where volunteers can help but often the problem is transport – in terms of logistics and cost. Our thanks go to the First Group for their generosity and help over several months, with free bus passes.’
Action Asylum has been created by the Task Force Trust and funded by the Michael Bishop Foundation and National Lottery.
If you are interested in offering volunteer opportunities, please contact Anita at [email protected]